I belong to a group called Spirit and Truth here in Indy; the group was actually started, as far as I can tell, by St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in Chicago, where they have the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy. I can’t really describe it, because it is so amazing, but I will post a photo from their website and some information from it as well.
The above photo is of the Mary-shaped monstrance and Jesus in the middle. Wow, right? Here’s some information from the St. Stan’s website about how this came about:
Here in the heart of Chicago, as in innumerable places throughout the world, heaven is reaching out to humanity in a gesture of mercy to kindle within the soul a desire for God. The Holy Mother of God — the tabernacle that so long ago concealed the Holy of Holies — continues her apostolic mission to make Jesus known, loved, and served. She gently and tenderly, gracefully and mercifully, reminds a wayward, wandering, and wondering people that they, too, are known, loved, and served by God.
Our Lady’s request for a Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy is a mother’s plea to her children to seek refuge in God. To this end, she prepares holy ground where sacred silence gives way to the sound of God’s voice. She will not permit the cacophony of the world to interrupt or distort the voice of the living God. She will provide the means to draw the pilgrims to the Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy and into the silence of the adoration chapel where Jesus will give to drink from the fountain of mercy.
The Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy will be an encounter with the Living God in the silence of sacred space. There, away from the noise of the world, the soul will “contemplate the face of Christ in the school of Mary.”
Needless to say, if you’re ever in Chicago, check it out!
Back to Spirit and Truth; it was started at this parish a few years ago as a way to get young adults more engaged with their faith. Each week there is a speaker or discussion on a certain topic about spirituality, adoration for about an hour, and then usually people go out for drinks or dinner. So it combines spirituality, Eucharistic Adoration, and community — all things we need to be fulfilled.
Husband and I went a few times in Chicago, but honestly, there’s so much going on in Chicago, it was hard to get there every week.
Fast forward to Indy — we attended a small lecture series on the Theology of the Body at our parish, and we met this couple who had started Spirit and Truth here in town. So we have been going just about every week since June.
Why Spirit and Truth?
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.” – John 4:24
Why Adoration? Here’s what Pope Benedict XVI thinks:
“In the Eucharist, the Son of God comes to meet us and desires to become one with us; eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church’s supreme act of adoration. (192) Receiving the Eucharist means adoring him whom we receive. Only in this way do we become one with him, and are given, as it were, a foretaste of the beauty of the heavenly liturgy. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself. Indeed, “only in adoration can a profound and genuine reception mature. And it is precisely this personal encounter with the Lord that then strengthens the social mission contained in the Eucharist, which seeks to break down not only the walls that separate the Lord and ourselves, but also and especially the walls that separate us from one another.” – Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, 2007
Can I just pause here for a moment and say, I really love the Pope.
Ok. Back to Adoration. So now we know, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, why everyone should go to Adoration. But why do I go?
I didn’t always go, but it always made sense to me. God has really graced me as a Catholic in a a few very specific ways, and one of those ways was in the infused grace of knowing, almost instinctively, that the Eucharist is the REAL PRESENCE of Christ. I remember being a very young child, like five or six, when my mother was still alive, and going to Church with her, and saying to her, “That’s really Jesus up there!”
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not claiming that this has happened because of any special talent or holiness on my part, rather that God has really gifted me with this faith. This knowledge and faith is, in part, one of the reasons I came back to the Catholic Church after a hiatus during college. I just KNEW that Jesus was in the Eucharist, and he wasn’t truly present anywhere else — and I missed Him something fierce.
Missing Jesus, this is ultimately why I decided to go to Adoration each week. Every time I went in the past, it was a spiritually rewarding time, and I felt refreshed, challenged, or otherwise stirred from spiritual complacency. I have recently reached a point where, if I am not going weekly (or very near weekly) I miss Jesus terribly. I know He’s there; I want to be where He is.
Some people in the Church, a lot of younger people and baby-boomer age people, think that Adoration is out-dated and a waste of time, though they usually don’t put it quite as bluntly. Fr. McBrien of Notre Dame recently said that Eucharistic Adoration is a theological step backward. I find this rather amusing, given what the Pope has said of Adoration in the exhortation above. I think I’ll side with BXVI on this one.
And to people like Fr. McBrien, I would just say, come and sit with Jesus for an hour. It will be weird and possibly awkward at first — it always is. Your foot will fall asleep, you’ll feel hungry, you’ll be tempted to make a shopping list in your head, or, you might even feel like going to sleep. Go with it. All of the things you think and feel, Jesus already knows.
He wants us to be with him — He wants US to BE with HIM. God wants to hang out with us. This is a big deal, if I can make an understatement. And yes, Jesus is always everywhere, and you can bring him with you everywhere, which is awesome. But if you really believed that he was sitting in a pew at the local church waiting for you – body, blood, soul, divinity – would you waste time reading my blog before sprinting over to Him?
This is adoration; Jesus waiting for us, to be with us. It doesn’t have to be fancy prayers, or even any prayers. It can be a conversation, it can be silence in your heart. It can be any of the millions of things that Jesus wills it to be. But it can’t be anything if we don’t show up.